During the flight I had a recurring bad feeling. Then, after waiting at the Delhi Airport Baggage Reclaim for one-hour, it was confirmed. KLM had lost my luggage! I had no choice but to proceed toward the holy village of Vrindavana with the clothes I was wearing and the few books I carried in my hand luggage. As the taxi pulled onto the busy highway the deeper meaning began to dawn on me. To truly enter the spiritual reality we have to leave all of our attachments behind. To receive spiritual gifts, we have to come forward with empty hands. I wish that all my material attachments were in that piece of luggage, and KLM never managed to find it! Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that.
When a learned sage was one asked to elucidate the meaning of illusion, he responded by jumping off his dais and running out into the courtyard. The bemused audience quickly followed him. He rushed towards a tree, grabbed hold of it tightly, and proceeded to hysterically exclaim “let me go! Let me go! Let me go!” It was a graphic explanation. We’re holding onto our possessions and our need for security. We’re holding onto our image and our desires for reputation and respect. We’re holding onto our hopes and our plans for the future. We want the spiritual reality to manifest, but we’re still not quite ready to let go. How can a mind agitated and pre-occupied with so many thoughts focus on more profound pursuits?
It sounds painful to “sever our attachments”. In actuality, detachment is the most liberating experience in the world. When we pin the picture of our human journey on the backdrop of spiritual eternity, we gain incredible perspective. Real Success, the Bhagavad-gita states, is demonstrated by determined, dutiful and conscientious action. We carry out responsibilities with the best of intentions, and simultaneously remain detached from the temporary fortunes (or misfortunes) that we are dealt. By leaving our heavy and burdensome bags of attachment behind, we find an immediate relief, and simultaneously prepare ourselves for the eternal peace.